“We treat people, not just problems.”
John L. Pfenninger, M.D.
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WHAT IS AN INGROWN TOENAIL?
An ingrown toenail occurs when the nail edge is damaged and the nail no longer properly fits into the side groove. The nail curls downward and digs into the skin causing swelling, pain, redness, and infection.
WHAT CAUSES AN INGROWN NAIL?
While there can be many causes for ingrown nails, two major concerns are poorly-fitting shoes and improperly-trimmed nails. Shoes that are too tight compress the side of the nail. When nails are peeled (instead of cut) off at the edge or are trimmed down into the corners, they are at risk for becoming ingrown. Nails should be cut straight across with the corners extending out from the toe. Teenagers can wear socks to bed or while watching TV as a reminder to avoid peeling or pulling off their nails.
WHAT IS THE BEST TREATMENT FOR MY PAINFUL NAIL?
When the problem is mild, soaking the foot in warm water and placing dry cotton under the corner of the nail may be all that is needed. Increasing pain, swelling, and drainage indicate the problem is worsening. If the problem progresses, then surgery may be needed to remove a portion of nail causing the problem.
If this is the first time you’ve had the problem, the nail will be allowed to grow back. If this has happened before, we will probably cauterize the growth plate to prevent future problems.
AFTER MY TOENAIL SURGERY, WHAT SHOULD I DO TO CARE FOR MY FOOT?
· Wash the foot with soap and water three times a day for 4-5 days.
· Apply antibiotic ointment to the site after washing.
· Keep a bandage over the site until it heals.
· Take acetaminophen and ibuprofen as needed for discomfort.
· Keep the wound clean and dry between washings.
· Wear loosely fitting shoes or sneakers the first two weeks. Be sure the shoe size is not too small.
· Avoid strenuous activity for one week.
· Call our office if problems develop such as increasing pain, swelling, redness or drainage.
· Avoid high heels and other tight-fitting shoes in the future.
· Trim nails straight across as described above. Do not pick at them or tear them at the edge.
Copyright, 2011. John L. Pfenninger, M.D. jw11/10